In a previous incarnation, Wellingtonian Jenny Douché put out a series of books under the ‘Smarter than Jack’ label.
These collections of stories, about smart animals, raised $440,000 for worldwide, animal-connected charities. The NZ SPCA earned about $120,000. Douché’s venture into publishing followed an initial (and one of the last) cadetship at Wellington Newspapers followed by her first entrepreneurial venture which was as a pet photographer.
“I quickly realised what I really liked about the business was the partnerships, the business side of it, it was not really the photography itself,” she says.
Douché developed the idea for Smarter than Jack during a four-year stint at Telecom as a marketing/communications specialist and while doing her MBA. “I wanted to create a scalable business that I was really passionate about, and one that would make a big difference to the animal community”.
She sold the Smarter than Jack label and concept in 2007, and after having her first child, had the opportunity to work for Grow Wellington and to manage its ‘Activate’ programme for up and coming startup businesses.
When that 12 month contract finished, she decided to write another book called ‘Baby Gone’. This was another compilation of stories about infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death.
“They were stories about the months after the actual event, life after it, coping,” she says. “The objective of creating the book was to help educate the medical community and to help families find solace in knowing that they are not alone on their unplanned and painful journeys.”
She got a sponsor onboard through Trilogy’s Catherine deGroot, and this contributed to the donation of over 3000 copies to people such as midwives, nurses, GPs and to support groups.
Following the arrival of a second child, and playing to her project-orientation strengths, saw her come up with the idea for Fool Proof.
As well as her own business/entrepreneurial experiences, Douché also had been helping put startups through the market validation process. Creating a resource for others seemed to her a useful exercise.
She’s self-published the book – but now has ‘orders’ from her husband not to write another until their current three-year-old daughter starts school.
So what’s she going to do to keep her creative juices flowing – a PhD!
Based on startup businesses that have a documented business model (from say an incubation process), “what is fascinating is how they change during the early growth period,” she says.
“What is it that people say and think they’re going to do, compared to what actually happens. What influences those things to happen? I want to understand why things turned out the way they did.”
Won’t be much writing there will there?